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Feminist News


June-26-96

Virginia Judge Blocks Welfare Regulation on Identifying Fathers

Suspending a new Virginia law which requires mothers seeking welfare benefits to identify the fathers of their children, a federal judge in Charlottesville ruled against allowing the state to cut off the benefits of two women challenging the law. Enforcement of the law against other women will continue, but the womens lawyers feel U.S. District Judge James H. Michael Jr.s temporary injunction against state welfare officials could be cited as a precedent in similar cases to come. According the Virginia Poverty Law Center, the group which brought the suit on behalf of the women, the judges language was strongly favorable to their clients although he did not make the case a class action representing all women whose benefits could be cut off under the law.

The state law, which went into effect July 1, 1995, requires mothers give first and last names of fathers as well as social security information or places of employment. Both women, who had given birth to their children years ago fully cooperated with social workers to determine the paternity of their children, including having blood tests done on former partners. Despite their efforts and their testimony in front of state judge that they did not know the names of the fathers of their children, the women did not meet state guidelines for welfare benefits.

Media Resources: The Washington Post - June 26, 1996